F Rosa Rubicondior: July 2021

Saturday 31 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - A Nasty Little Trick for Making Malignant Melanomas

VAI Study reveals source of DNA mutations in melanoma - VAI

Creationist mode:

Back in 2014 I wrote an article about malignant melanoma, inspired by a holiday on the Côte d'Azur, explaining why people with pale skin are at risk because of poor 'design' creating the need for a balance between getting melanoma and producing enough Vitamin D in the skin to avoid rickets due to Vitamin D deficiency. In Eurasia, where the sun is lower in the sky, meaning it has more atmosphere to travel through, and the weather is more cloudy, than in our ancestral homelands in Africa, pushed this balance towards pale skin and therefore an increased risk of melanomas.

Now, however, judging by the way creationists seem to admire the many examples of malevolence in their beloved, putative intelligent [sic] designer, there may be another reason - mendacity and delight in watching us suffer, if we buy into this childish explanation for a moment...

So, if you've been taken in by the Intelligent Design Hoax and believe that nothing of this sort ever happens without the positive intervention of a magic designer to make it happen, and that this magic designer is an omniscient god, then you must accept that the recent findings of a research group at the Van Andel Institute (VAI), Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, point to deliberation and not accident - which is excluded by the dogma of omniscience.

Friday 30 July 2021

False Witnessing News - Another Christian Lying to Us.

Pastor Nik Walker, Nik Walker Ministries
Liar for Jesus, Plagiarist.
This Preacher Claims to Have Proof That Miracles Are Real. We Know He’s Lying. | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Fake miracles are the common currency of several Christian sects; used to fool the gullible into thinking there is a magic man in the sky who can suspend the natural laws at will and who sometimes grants this power to his preachers.

Here, for example is one such fraud, Pastor Nik Walker of Nik Walker Ministries, claiming to have healed a man's 'withered and useless' hand by simply baptising him. He even produces the 'evidence' in the form of x-rays, with a convincing (to anyone who doesn't know how hospitals work) backstory about how the x-rays were obtained.

What we aren't shown however, is the before x-rays, so we have nothing to compare them to. We also don't have the name of the hospital, nor the doctor, so there is no danger of the story being checked out. We just have Pastor Stone's word for it. A word which, as we shall see, is not worth the paper it's written on. In fact, it's a blatant lie.

Also, what we aren't told is that these x-rays are not of the hand of an adult man (as any decent radiographer would have noticed) taken in an American hospital, they are in fact of the hands of four different (Chinese) children, ranging from that of a 7-year-old boy to that of an 11-year-old girl, all suffering from a condition known as Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD). They were collected from various centres in China where the disease is endemic, as part of an effort by Chinese scientists working at the Institute for Kaschin-Beck Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, in order to get a better understanding of the disease. They have been plagiarised from a 2018, open access paper in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports in which these scientists published their findings.

In other words, the whole story is a blatant lie, concocted to deceive. There never was a man whose 'withered and useless' hand was miraculously cured by God when he was baptised. Nor was there a doctor in a hospital who was amazed at the change when he x-rayed the man's hand.

(A) Is a radiological image of the right hand with KBD-positive X-ray signs in an 8-year-old boy: some metaphyseal hardening signs, waviness or serration changes and small depressions (red arrows) are found in the zones of provisional metaphyseal calcification in the fingers (including index finger, middle finger and ring finger). (B) Is a radiological image of the right hand of a 7-year-old healthy boy: all metaphyses, epiphyses and diaphyses were glabrate, uniform, sinuous and non-destructive. The carpals were not completely formed. (C) Is a radiological image of the right hand of an 11-year-old girl with CRME in the equal-diameter period: the diameter of metaphysis and epiphysis are almost equal. Although it belongs to the normal development periods before complete closure of metaphysis-epiphysis (CCME), its imaging signs are similar to KBD-positive X-ray signs. Index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger show metaphyses serrated, wavy (green arrows). (D) Is a radiological image of the right hand of a 10-year-old girl with CRME in the ultra-diameter period: The diameter of epiphysis is longer than that of metaphysis. It occurs after the equal-diameter period normally and the features are similar to KBD-positive X-ray signs. Some metaphyseal waviness, serration and irregularly depressions are found in many fingers (white arrows).

Walker has chosen to be interviewed by a credulous dupe known for the readiness with which he accepts any old tosh told to him so long as it confirms his bias, or better still, confirms the bias of the credulous audience who donate money to have their biases confirmed in this way. Because he holds the same contempt for his target marks as a con-artist has for his, this is exactly the way Pastor Perry Stone of Perry Stone Ministries expects his target dupes to behave. You can almost hear him laughing all the way to the bank.

In 2020 it was announced that Stone had agreed to 'step aside' from his 'ministry' for an indefinite period because of his 'inappropriate actions' with female employees, although he wasn't required to 'step away' from his lucrative social media activities, such as interviewing blatant frauds like Nik Walker and helping him fleece his target marks.

Last April Stone, apparently unaware, in common with other parochial American fundamentalists, that there is a world outside the USA that is also suffering from the same pandemic (the clue in in the word 'pandemic'), revealed his theocratic ambitions and contempt for the US Constitution, when he announced that the God had told him the coronavirus was sent as 'a moment of reckoning' [for America]:
Because we have by law forced God out of our country and basically told him, ‘In public places, you’re not welcome.’ You’re not welcomed in our schools, so our schools are now shut down. No prayer in public school, no Bible reading in public school. Now, are you with me? They’re telling kids to stay home for who knows how long, so our schools are shut down.
He also told his dupes, gullible audience:
I know what I heard, I did not make that up. I audibly heard the phrase, a male voice speaking, and I believe it was the Holy Spirit.
And his guest, Nick Walker, did not make that up just like he didn't make up the miraculously cured 'withered and useless' hand, no doubt. Between 1999 and 2012 (the last time accounts were filed) Perry Stone Ministries had an income of $17 million.

Yet another sanctimonious evangelical con-artist who feels his piety allows him to self-license a few exemptions from the morals he expects others to live by.

When you show the world you know you need to lie for your faith, you show the world you know your faith is a lie that needs people to believe falsehoods.

Christian Jihadi Terrorists at the Capitol - Committee Testimony

Christian Jihadi terrorists attempting a violent coup d’état
(6 Jan, 2021)
D.C. officer: "It was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians" - Axios

It is clear from the testimony of serving Metropolitan Police officers to the Committee of enquiry into the violent insurrection in support of Donald Trump at the Capitol, Washington DC, on 6 January, 2021, that the people attempting the violent coup d’état were not, as the GOP and Trumpanzee cult maintain, assorted BLM/Socialists, but full-blooded Christian Jihadi terrorists. The terrorists were intent on creating a Christian evangelical theocracy in the USA.

Bizarrely, this was to be under the leadership of their idol, Donald Trump, possibly the least competent, most corrupt and most un-Christian US politician ever to hold public high office.

One of the police officer who gave evidence was Daniel Hodges, one of the on-duty officers who were violently attacked by the mob as they forced their way into the Capitol building, seeking to prevent the House from ratifying the EC vote confirming that Joe Biden had won the presidency and Trump had lost. Some were even calling for the seizure and summary execution of leading lawmakers.

During his harrowing testimony, he described being crushed by the mob against the Capital door and a Christian terrorist trying to gouge his eye out with his thumb.

He told the committee:
The sea of people was punctuated throughout by flags. Mostly variations of American flags and Trump flags. There was Gadsden flags. It was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians. I saw the Christian flag directly to my front, and another had 'Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president.' Another, 'Jesus is king.
  • To my perpetual confusion, I saw the Thin Blue Line flag, a symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us.
  • [The] rioters identifying as veterans said they had "fought for this country and were fighting for it again."
  • Others demanded that law enforcement refrain from attacking them because "'we're not Black Lives Matter,' as if political affiliation is how we determine when to use force."
From that last remark, it is clear that the Talibangelicals were entitled white supremacists who see themselves as privileged; entitled to exemptions from the law not available to non-whites; a law which they see as designed to maintain the social strata with blacks and Hispanics below the whites.

Other officers, such as Harry Dunn, a black officer and Sgt. Aquilino Gonnell (Hispanic), testified how they were subjected to racist abuse. When Dunn revealed that he had voted for Biden, a woman in pink shouted:
Did you hear that, guys? That [N-word] voted for Joe Biden!
And the mob began chanting "Boo! F**ing [N-word]".

Gonnell, who served in Iraq, was told he wasn't an American because of his race.

A screenshot from surveillance footage provided by the FBI shows Casey Cusick (red hat) inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6. along with his father Pastor Jim Cusick (white hat).

FBI Handout Photo
Amongst the 591 people so far charged in connection to the attempted coup d’état are an evangelical Christian pastor from Florida and his son. James Cusick is a pastor in the Global Outreach Church, Melbourne, Florida, of which his son, Casey is vice president. They have both been charged with disorderly and violent conduct at the Capitol. The FBI became aware of their involvement when they were named during questioning by a congregant who was also present. This was later confirmed by bodycam footage from the cameras worn by the police and surveillance camera footage.

According to this report in TOPNews-USA:
Pastor James “Jim” Cusick Jr. of the Global Outreach Church of Melbourne, and his minister son, Casey Cusick, face charges of entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and violent entry, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. A third man, Global Outreach church member David Lesperance, also faces charges.

Investigators say they first received a tip via telephone in January, followed by an anonymous letter on March 26, alleging that Lesperance and the Cusicks had traveled from Florida to D.C. and participated in the insurrection after listening to former President Trump speak.

The FBI found surveillance footage of the three men among the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol during the riots that left five people dead and roughly 140 law enforcement officers injured.

Investigators secured a warrant to search Lesperance’s cellphone and found both historical location data placing him at the Capitol on Jan. 6 as well as photos from his iCloud account that show James and Casey Cusick inside the building, the affidavit states.
It is becoming very clear that the attempted coup d’état was a Christian insurrection in alliance with the neo-fascist, white supremacist right; an attempt by Taliban-style Christian jihadis to take over the US Government. The subsequent lies by the GOP and their white Christian extremist allies, intended to blame the whole thing on BLM activists and Socialist Democrats, and their attempts to obstruct any attempt to reveal the truth of who was behind it, is indicative that they already know the truth but don't want the American people to know, or to know what they were trying to achieve - a Christo-fascist takeover by a white supremacist minority and an abolition of democracy.
Expect even more obstructionism from GOP representatives as the party abandons any pretence of being a democratic party determined to uphold American democracy and preserve the spirit of 1776. The party of the entitled white right is not going to take defeat at the polls with good grace. They feel, like Donald Trump, that they have been unfairly cheated of the power that is theirs by right. Democracy was only ever going to be tolerated so long as it delivered them that power.

Thursday 29 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - It's Just Like It Can't Help Itself!

How relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for vaccine resistance - UEA

For devotees of a supposed intelligent [sic] designer, the COVID-19 pandemic must look like their idol is simply obeying natural laws like an automaton.

For the supposed creator of the Universe, this is an embarrassing comedown - bound by statistical laws and compelled to act as though it has no free will but is just obeying the rules of Darwinian evolution; unable to prevent its design killing its supporters and detractors alike or prevent its supporters dying after attending one of their super-spreader events to gather together to shout and bellow songs of praise to it. And apparently, compelled to come up with modifications which are both predicable and predicted by scientists using scientific laws.

This is perhaps best illustrated by a communication from the University of East Anglia which explains how and why the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates predictably according to clearly-understood Darwinian mechanisms such as random mutations and non-random natural selection, in a very large population, where highly unlikely mutations can quickly accumulate in the population to become the predominant form, driven by the prevailing environment in which it finds itself:
Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for new vaccine-resistant virus mutations – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute.

A new article published today warns against relaxing Covid-19 restrictions prematurely.

It describes how we are in an ‘arms race’ with the virus and how rising cases could provide opportunities for it to evolve into even more transmissible variants.

The researchers fear that any new variants could be more virulent, more vaccine resistant, and more dangerous for children and vulnerable groups such as transplant patients.

Monday 26 July 2021

Catholic Abuse News - The Scandal Rumbles On...

Bishop Peter Libasci, centre, arrives at the Cathedral of St. Joseph for his Installation service as the Tenth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, USA (2011). A lawsuit is accusing him of sexually abusing an unidentified, then 12- or 13-year-old youth, on numerous occasions in 1983 and 1984.
Photo: AP/Jim Cole
New Hampshire bishop accused of abusing teenage boy.

The latest senior Catholic to face allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor is Peter Libasci, bishop of the New Hampshire Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

A Lawsuit filed in Supreme Court in Suffolk County, New York alleges that he sexually abused a male youth aged 12 or 13 on numerous occasions while serving as a pastor in the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius and the Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Deer Park, New York, in 1983 and 1984. The youth was a student at the school at the time. The church and school are run by the Diocese of Rockville Center.

We worry that allowing the Bishop to remain in ministry may further endanger young lives in New Hampshire. We hope that the Bishop’s Metropolitan or the Vatican intervene to correct this troubling situation immediately.

Statement by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
The lawsuit also names the church and the school as well as the Sisters of St Joseph, which is responsible for organizing activities at the school. Rockville centre is one of a number of New York Catholic dices that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because of the large number of abuse allegations which have emerged since New York abolished the statute of limitations, allowing formerly time-lapsed allegations to come to court. This is but one of the more than 200 allegations of sexual abuse that have been filed against this one Catholic diocese since then.

CDC: 99.5% of COVID-19 Deaths are of Unvaccinated Individuals.

CDC: 99.5% of COVID-19 deaths are from unvaccinated individuals

Evidence of the efficacy, and so the good sense of getting vaccinated, of the anti-Covid vaccine is emerging in astonishing statistics from the USA, which is divided on tribal lines on the issue, with 'red' (Republican) states following the disastrous Donald Trump and evangelical Christian lead in minimising the seriousness of the vaccine, eschewing the measures to mitigate the pandemic and now in opposing the vaccines, having much higher infection/hospitalisation/death rates compared to 'blue' (Democrat) states.

According to figures produced by DCD director, Dr Rochelle Walensky during a White House briefing in early July, 99.5% of recent COVID-19 deaths are of people who were unvaccinated!

According to this report, Dr Walensky told journalists:

Saturday 24 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Going for Quantity Because Quality Isn't Enough Any More

A queue at a hospital in Surabaya, Indonesia, that treats people with COVID-19. Indonesia has been hard hit by the δ-variant.

Credit: Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty
How the Delta variant achieves its ultrafast spread

Creationist mode:

It's looking as though, annoyed by the success of medical science's vaccines in combatting its latest attempt to kill as many people as possible with its SARS-CoV-2 virus, Creationism's favourite divine malevolence has opted for quantity, now quality has fallen, with its latest modification to its design - the δ-variant.

Scientists led by epidemiologist Jing Lu at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Guangzhou, China, have shown why the δ-variant has spread so far so fast. The have shown that it has a shorter incubation period so people begin shedding viruses and infecting others more quickly, often before contacts can be traced. Infected people also have a 'viral load' up to 1260 times higher than with the original strain.

They reached these conclusions after tracking 62 people who were quarantined after exposure to COVID-19 and who were some of the first people in mainland China to become infected with the δ strain. They measured the viral load every day through the course of the infection and compared their data to that of 63 patients who were infected with the original strain in 2020.

Malevolent Designer News - What Creationism's God COULD Have Given Us but Just Didn't Bother.

A genetic tweak that targets RNA can grow crops that yield significantly more food and show increased drought tolerance, announced scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University.
Image: © Shutterstock
RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice | University of Chicago News

One of the pieces of evidence that Creationism's putative god is not the god described in the Christian Bible is that there are so many examples of how it could have done more for mankind if it had wanted to, but did not do so, refuting any claims that it is a maximally good god who created everything for the benefit of its favourite creation - human beings.

I devote the final chapter of The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is Not Good, to some of the many examples of this - from the elephants' resistance to cancers, bats' superior immune system, birds' superior respiratory system, to the superior eyes of birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon, compared to the relatively mediocre eyes of humans. To provide humans with sub-optimal systems and then watch them suffer with an inferior version, is almost as mendacious as the malevolent act of creating parasites to make us sick; it's certainly an act of incompetence which refutes any notion of it being a perfect designer, if indeed, as Creationists like to imagine, it ready did all those things.

On the left, rice plants without the RNA modification. On the right, a rice plant with the RNA modification that boosts yield.
Source: Yu, et al
Now here is another example, discovered by scientists from Chicago, Peking and Guizhou Universities. This time it shows how a supposed designer god failed to provide us with more productive food crops, even though this should have been well within the capabilities of an omniscient, omnipotent god.

The scientists have discovered that adding a human gene coding for a protein called FTO, increases the yield of rice and potatoes by 50%, and makes them more drought-tolerant. Two of the major staple food crops for humans worldwide have been yielding only two thirds of what they could have been producing, while resisting total crop failures from droughts, if an omni-benevolent, anthropophilic creator god really had designed them.

Thursday 22 July 2021

Refuting Creationism - New Genetic Information by Gene Duplication

Cycads, such as this sago palm, have bulbous, egglike roots that harbor nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Since nitrogen can be a limited nutrient in many terrestrial ecosystems, this gives cycads a competitive advantage over the plants that grow around them.
Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0
DNA duplication linked to the origin and evolution of pine trees and their relatives – Florida Museum Science

Somehow, creationist frauds have managed to convince their dupes that new genetic information can only arise if created by a magic man in the sky who can suspend the laws of physics and make the impossible happen, because it is impossible for new information to arise. This is supposedly due to some law of physics which is always poorly defined, but somehow has something to do with thermodynamics and a thing called 'information theory'. 'Thermodynamics' and 'Information theory' are nice, sciencey-sounding words that give Creationist dupes a cosy warm feeling when they use them, because they imagine it makes them sound as though they understand science, just like real scientists.

And there are few things a science-denying Creationist likes more than thinking his/her superstitions have a sound scientific basis.

The facts however, refute this notion, as can be seen with this new study, which shows how new genetic information can arise perfectly naturally, without magic. So using 'thermodynamics' and 'information theory' to argue that science can't explain how new genetic information arises, makes Creationist dupes sound exactly like scientifically illiterate, science-denying idiots and the willing dupes of frauds.

This new study shows how frequent gene duplication and the subsequent evolution of these 'spare' genes was responsible for the evolution of the large and diverse group of plants known as gymnosperms that includes pines, cypresses, sequoias, ginkgos and cycads.

As the Florida Museum news release explains:

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Creationism's Beloved Malevolence is Fighting Back

SARS-CoV-2 Y453F and L452R variants contribute to evasion from cellular immunity and the L452R variant also increases viral infectivity.

From: Motozono, C. et.al., Cell Host & Microbe, 2021.(CC BY 4.0)
SARS-CoV-2 spike mutation L452R evades human immune response and enhances infectivity | News | Kumamoto University

Creationist mode:

Creationism's malevolent designer, having gone to such lengths, catalogued in this blog, to design the SARS-CoV-2 virus to kill as many people as possible and make many more sick, was never going to take defeat by human medical science with its clever vaccines, lightly.

Now scientists from Kumamoto University, Japan, have shown how it has redesigned the virus' spike protein so it not only makes it more infective but also helps it evade the immunity produced in response to the vaccines, which specifically target the spike protein.

This mutation, or as Creationists would call it, the new design, is known to science as L452R and is already present in both the δ-variant and the ε-variant. The δ-variant is the one currently responsible for the massive increase in infections in much of the world, include the UK, where new cases have rocketed from under 1,700 daily new cases in early May to over 54,000 four days ago, although we have seen a slight falling back from that figure to 44,000 new cases today. Most experts are predicting a large increase over the next few weeks, possibly reaching 100,000 new cases next month. Unless some of the restrictions, including obligatory wearing of face coverings in enclosed public spaces and public transport are reimposed, I think this figure is easily achievable.

UK Daily New Covid-19 infections (21 Jul, 2021)
Immunity in response to the vaccines has two components:
  1. Humoral immunity (antibodies circulating in the blood which attack the viral spike proteins rendering them innactive).
  2. Cellular immunity (pre-programmed helper and killer T-cells, produced in the bone marrow on demand when cells signal that they have been infected).
The new 'design' appears to lessen the effect of the humoral immunity because the modification in the spike protein means they don't bind so firmly to the virus. It makes the virus more infective because it binds more firmly to the ACE2 proteins on the cell surface, so gains entry to the cell more quickly, and it reduces the mobilisation of T-cells, especially in people who carry the HLA-A24 allel, which is common in East and South-Asian people.

So, it seems the intelligent [sic] designer has left no stone unturned in its search for its next move in the arms race with human medical science.

Creationist mode:

Now the real science:
The L452R mutation is a hallmark of the Delta variant that is currently spreading worldwide, and in Japan, about 60% of the population have HLA-A24, which is responsible for cellular immunity. The L452R mutation not only evades the HLA-A24 cellular immunity but can also enhance the infectivity of the virus. We have been carefully investigating the immune response against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants in real time to monitor how the mutations affect human immunity and viral infectivity.

Dr. Chihiro Motozono, Senior author
Division of Infection and Immunity,
Joint Research Center for Human Retrovirus Infection,
Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan
In this study, the research group first used immunological experiments to demonstrate that an antigen derived from the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is strongly recognized by HLA-A24-restricted cellular immunity, which is often found in Japanese people. They then performed a large-scale (>750,000) sequence analysis of SARS-CoV-2 strains and found several important mutations in the spike protein region typically recognized by HLA-A24. These are the Y453F spike mutations found in strain B.1.1.298, which was prevalent in Denmark in 2020, and the L452R mutation in B.1.427/429 and B.1.617 (commonly known as the Epsilon and Delta variants respectively) that are currently spreading around the world. Further immunological experiments demonstrated that these mutations escape HLA-A24 cellular immunity. The researchers believe that this is the first time a “variant of concern" has been demonstrated to evade cellular immunity.

The Y453F and L452R mutations were located in the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which are crucial for gaining entry into host cells. Researchers thus examined the effects of these mutations on the infection and replication efficiency of the virus. They found that the L452R mutation enhances its membrane fusion activity, infectivity, and viral replication.
The team's findings were published recently, open access, in the journal, Cell Host & Microbe:
  • L452R and Y453F mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike RBM have emerged
  • L452R and Y453F mutants escape HLA-A24-restricted cellular immunity
  • L452R increases viral infectivity and fusogenicity and promotes viral replication


Many SARS-CoV-2 variants with naturally acquired mutations have emerged. These mutations can affect viral properties such as infectivity and immune resistance. Although the sensitivity of naturally occurring SARS-CoV-2 variants to humoral immunity has been investigated, sensitivity to human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted cellular immunity remains largely unexplored. Here, we demonstrate that two recently emerging mutations in the receptor-binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, L452R (in B.1.427/429 and B.1.617) and Y453F (in B.1.1.298), confer escape from HLA-A24-restricted cellular immunity. These mutations reinforce affinity toward the host entry receptor ACE2. Notably, the L452R mutation increases spike stability, viral infectivity, viral fusogenicity, and thereby promotes viral replication. These data suggest that HLA-restricted cellular immunity potentially affects the evolution of viral phenotypes and that a further threat of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is escape from cellular immunity.

Motozono, Chihiro; Toyoda, Mako; Zahradnik, Jiri; Saito, Akatsuki; Nasser, Hesham; Tan, Toong Seng; Ngare, Isaac; Kimura, Izumi; Uriu, Keiya; Kosugi, Yusuke; Yue, Yuan; Shimizu, Ryo; Ito, Jumpei; Torii, Shiho; Yonekawa, Akiko; Shimono, Nobuyuki; Nagasaki, Yoji; Minami, Rumi; Toya, Takashi; Sekiya, Noritaka; Fukuhara, Takasuke; Matsuura, Yoshiharu; Schreiber, Gideon; Ikeda, Terumasa; Nakagawa, So; Ueno, Takamasa; Sato, Kei
SARS-CoV-2 spike L452R variant evades cellular immunity and increases infectivity
Cell Host & Microbe
, Volume 29, Issue 7, 1124 - 1136.e11

Copyright: © 2021 The authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Open access.
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
The reason this is happening with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is obvious to anyone who has even a rudimentary understanding of evolution. Occasional variations in the replication of the viral RNA in infected cells are sifted by the sieve of natural selection, so that those few that are better at surviving and reproducing in the environment we are creating with our vaccines will quite quickly become the dominant form in the viral gene pool. A higher survival rate is a consequence of becoming more infective, producing more viruses and/or evading the immunity the vaccines are conferring on us.

Hospital Admissions (21 July 2021)

Deaths (21 July, 2021)
The significant factor here is that these mutations don't need to arise in people who have been vaccinated; they only need to infect vaccinated people to be selected for. So long as there are billions of people who have not been vaccinated, there is a high probability that a billion to one chance mutation will happen daily in the viral population numbered in the trillions. It is only by massively reducing this breeding ground by vaccinating as many people as possible that we can reduce the chance of these mutations arising.

The good news is, that, as the figures from the UK show, while new infections are approaching figures last seen last January and February, the number of hospitalisations and deaths are only a small fraction of what they were then. The vaccines are working to prevent serious illnesses and deaths.

Menwhile, we can only wonder at the mindset of those fanatical Creationists who are so full of admiration for what they believe to be the creator of this terrible pandemic.

How Come no Religion Ever Told Us the Universe is This Amazing?

Five galaxies as seen with MUSE on ESO’s VLT at several wavelengths of light
Galactic fireworks: new ESO images reveal stunning features of nearby galaxies | ESO

A stunning set of photographs of nearby galaxies and an accompanying video, has been released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). They were obtained by ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT).

By combining these observations with data from their partner, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), they are shedding new light on the what triggers gas clouds to condense to form these galaxies, the details of which remain a mystery.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Catholic Abuse News - Compensation for Victims of Paedophile Priests Bankrupts Yet Another Diocese

Bishop Michael R Cote
“grievously sorry.”
Connecticut diocese files for bankruptcy amid abuse claims

In common with many other American Catholic diocese, the diocese of Norwich, Connecticut has declared itself bankrupt and applied for Chapter 11 protection. This is often a devise to protect church funds from claimants and ensure victims are denied the compensation they are entitled to while the diocese hangs on to the funds it needs to pay its expenses such as the wages and pensions of those who oversaw the abuses.

This action was precipitated by dozens of lawsuits of victims of the regime that ran the now closed Academy at Mount Saint John School, a residential treatment centre for 'troubled youth' in Deep River. They are also suing the former Bishop of Norwich, Daniel Reilly.

According to this report in Religion News Service:

Saturday 17 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How SARS-CoV-2 Attacks Children

New UK study reveals extent of brain complications in children hospitalised with COVID-19 - News - University of Liverpool

Just so it leaves no stone unturned in its determination to do maximal harm with its brilliantly-designed virus, Creationism's beloved malevolence has even included a design in SARS-CoV-2 for attacking the brains of children.

At least this should be the conclusion of intelligent [sic] design advocates to whom there is only one permitted explanation for the apparent design of living organisms and their parasites.

A new study has found that, while the risk of children needing hospitalisation when infected by the coronavirus is small, about 1 in 20 children who do need to be admitted, go on to develop neurological complications.

The discovery was made by the CoroNerve Studies Group, led by scientists from the University of Liverpool, UK. The group was formed to investigate reports that:

Friday 16 July 2021

Unintelligent Designer News - Ludicrously Complex Solution for a Simple Problem

The photosynthetic sea slug, Plakobranchus ocellatus type black, (left) and an electron micrograph displaying sequestered algal chloroplasts within a sea slug cell (right).
A genome of photosynthetic animals decoded: Genome analysis reveals chloroplast acquisition without gene transfer in photosynthetic sea slugs | National Institute for Basic Biology / News

One of the strongest arguments against intelligent design in nature is the example of stupidity to be found in the many ludicrously complex solutions to problems that should have been simple for an omniscient, omnipotent creator.

I spell out several examples of this in my popular book, Unintelligent Design: Refuting the Intelligent Design Hoax. Creationists have been fooled into believing that complexity is evidence for design, not against it, even though one of the basic principles of good design is minimal complexity and maximal simplcity. Complexity should be the minimum sufficient to achieve the design purpose, since anything more wastes resource and adds to the production cost while adding nothing it terms of utility value.

And here we have another example of this unnecessary complexity in nature, when a simpler solution was readily available.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Amazing Success of SARS-CoV-2 Virus

Identification of over 200 long COVID symptoms prompts call for UK screening programme | EurekAlert! Science News

Creationist mode:

As an example of spiteful mendacity, Creationism's beloved intelligent [sic] designer's design of the SARS-CoV-2 virus takes some beating. No wonder Creationists are so much in awe of its genius. Strangely though, they don't seem to notice the nastier side of its hateful nature, or maybe they just don't see anything wrong with making us suffer because of unresolved anger issues.

It now appears that the coronavirus causing Covid-19 and the pandemic devastating economies, businesses and families world-wide, is designed with a nasty little sting in its tail, metaphorically speaking. If you do manage to survive an attack by it, it rampages through your body causing any or all of over 200 symptoms spread across ten systems, any of which debilitates in some way.

This was the finding of a research group led by scientists from University College, London, UK (UCL) together with a patient-led research collaborative. The group conducted an online survey of patients with confirmed or suspected 'long-COVID'. The survey was designed to characterise the symptom profile and time course of the disease as well as its impact on daily life, work and return to health.

Creationist dogma requires Creationists to believe that this malevolent designer is also omniscient, so would have been fully aware in complete detail, of the effects of its design, and designed it perfectly to produce exactly that outcome. The alternative would be to believe it can be surprised by the results of its own design and blunders blindly on not knowing what will happen and powerless to prevent it when it happens. The UCL news release summarises the findings:

End-Times News - The End is Nigh for American Christianity

Declining Christianity Leads to Dramatic US Religious Realignment, CRC Study Finds - Arizona Christian University

It looks like the USA is belatedly following the rest of the developed world in rejecting the intellectual absurdity and justification for hate that is Christianity today, if this poll is anything to go by.

It was conducted by the Barna Group which is hosted by Arizona Christian University, who, to their credit, do little to gloss over the findings which should terrify those whose livelihood depends on people turning up to church and giving their tax-free donations. Amongst the main findings of the AWVI 2021 are:

Monday 12 July 2021

Trumpanzee News - Right-Wing Capitol Insurrectionists in the US Police

Jan 6th failed Trumpanzee coup d’état in progress
Photo: Gallagher Photography via Shutterstock
15 Law Enforcement Officers Charged In Capitol Insurrection | Right Wing Watch

The effort from the extremist right in the USA is to blame the January 6th failed coup d’état on the liberal left and Black Lives Matter activists, by fruitloop conspiracists and Talibangelical liars for Trump such as Michelle Bachmann. The truth is, of course, the diametric opposite in terms of their politics, as the prosecutions are revealing.

Amongst those so far charged, for example, are these fifteen law-enforcement offices that no-one in their right mind would call liberal left. The following table comes courtesy of Right Wing Watch, with additional graphics from Internet sources:

Sunday 11 July 2021

Another Stink Rising from the Vatican Cesspit

Former Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, now under indictment in the Vatican for bribery, abuse of office and embezzlement.
Vatican indicts cardinal and nine others connected to financial scandal.

The murky world of Vatican finances is to be brought under the spotlight again towards the end of July when a Vatican tribunal begins hearing charges brought against former cardinal and powerful chief of staff of the Vatican secretariat of state, Giovanni Angelo Becciu and nine other business associates and Vatican officials are facing corruption charges in connection with a $225 million property deal in London in 2014.

The corruption charges relate to the use of the Vatican slush fund known as "Peter's Pence", which is the recipient of charitable donations throughout the Catholic world and which is supposed to be used by the Pope for charitable works. As former effective number 2 in the Vatican, Becciu had access to this largely unregulated account. I appears that he, like so many Vatican officials before him with access to large, unregulated slush funds, couldn't resist the temptation to plunge his grubby hands deep into the coffer.

Saturday 10 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Why The Creator Makes SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Study reveals how our immune system reacts to COVID-19 variants - The University of Sydney

Creationist mode:

For devotees of Creationism's intelligent [sic] designer, this finding by an Australian research group should come as no surprise. The experience of the coronavirus pandemic their beloved malevolence inflicted on humanity starting in late 2019, is that just as we seem to be getting to grips with one variant, along comes another even more infectious version.

The Sydney University researchers have found that these later versions, or variants, tend to be less affected by the antibodies our immune systems produce to the earlier variants, and, fortunately, to a lesser degree by those produced by the vaccines designed for those earlier variants. The designer is clearly deeply involved in an arms race with both human medical science and the immune system it supposedly designed to protect us from the viruses it creates to harm us.

Creationist mode:

Quite why it is having an arms race with itself is anyone's guess, but Creationists have defined it as supremely intelligent, so they must assume this is a hallmark of high intelligence! Cult dogma dictates that this can't be attributed to a natural process like evolution, so intelligent [sic] design is the only option available to Creationists, many of who seem to lack the capacity to work out why normal people find this so risible - which might be related to the reason they became Creationists in the first place.

Of course, to anyone who understands how evolution works, this was entirely predictable and presents medical science with a challenge - how to design vaccines which will also work against future variants, or design production techniques which can quickly switch to new variants as they are detected for annual boosters, like we currently have to do with annual flu jabs.

From the Sydney University News release:
We can learn a great deal from these people who were infected in the first wave in Australia as they were infected with the same variant that our current vaccines are based on.

While the approved vaccines are showing good responses, our study highlights the importance of continued vaccine development, especially taking into account the differences in variants.

Fabienne Brilot, Lead author, Associate Professor Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Australian scientists researching how our immune system responds to COVID-19 have revealed that those infected by early variants in 2020 produced sustained antibodies, however, these antibodies are not as effective against contemporary variants of the virus. The research is one of the world’s most comprehensive studies of the immune response against COVID-19 infection. It suggests vaccination is more effective than the body’s natural immune response following infection and shows the need to invest in new vaccine designs to keep pace with emerging COVID variants.

Published today in PLOS Medicine, the study was made possible by a partnership between the University of Sydney, Kids Research, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network,
What this work has shown us is that current observations about vaccines show they offer a much broader protection against COVID-19 and its variants than the body’s natural immune response following infection, which is usually only protective against the variant of the virus that the person was infected with. We, therefore, should not rely on the body’s natural immune response to control this pandemic, but rather the broadly protective vaccines that are available.

Stuart Turville, Co-senior author Associate Professor
Kirby Institute The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, St Vincent’s Hospital and NSW Health Pathology, as well as other local and international collaborators.

The team analysed the serum of 233 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 over 7 months and uncovered that the level of immunity over time is dependent on disease severity and the viral variant. They show that antibodies developed during the first wave had reduced effectiveness against six variants, ranging from those observed in the second wave in Australia through to three variants of concern that have driven the global pandemic in the UK, Brazil and South Africa...

Neutralising antibodies are part of our immune system’s frontline arsenal that is triggered during infection and vaccination. Their job is to shield cells that are usually the target of a pathogen (such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes the COVID-19 disease) from being infected. The level of neutralising antibody response can be a defining feature of how effectively our body fights off illness.

What makes this study stand out is the level and depth of analysis to neutralising antibody levels in people recovering from COVID infection over time, including comparison of infection recovering from different viral variants.

Fiona Tea, First co-author
Postdoctoral fellow
Kids Neuroscience Centre
Children’s Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Key findings
  • SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses are sustained for up to seven months post-infection.
  • The immune response remained stable in some individuals, and while it decreased in others, no individual showed a negative response during the seven-month period.
  • Levels of virus-neutralising antibodies were associated with COVID-19 severity.
  • Antibodies generated after early infection displayed a significantly reduced antibody binding and neutralisation potency to globally emerging viral variants.


10 COVID-19 strains and variants of concern/interest were investigated, including:*
  • First known classified SARS-CoV-2 strain (Wuhan -1 D614)
  • Alpha (B.1.1.7, United Kingdom)
  • Beta (B.1.351, South Africa)
  • Gamma (P1, Brazilian)
  • Zeta (P2, Brazilian)
*Note naming conventions updated to reflect World Health Organisation classifications.

The researchers used a comprehensive suite of assays that measured:
  • The longevity and type of antibody response against Spike from various variants over time in serum of COVID-19 diagnosed individuals.
  • Neutralisation of infectious SARS-CoV-2 over time, by infecting cell lines that had ACE2 on its surface (which SARS-CoV-2 binds and targets on the cell to begin infection) with a particle designed to mimic a version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus particle.
The good news is that the antibodies produced by the vaccines appear to be long-lasting and to have a broader range of effectiveness across the emerging new strains than those acquired in response to infection, which appear to be too highly targeted on the variant that triggered them. It looks like the result of medical science are proving to be superior to the results produced by what Creationist's believe is their intelligent [sic] designer's method, i.e. making the victim sick first and being fortunate enough to survive and ending up with an inferior product so being vulnerable still to another infection.

The groups findings are published, open access, in PLOS Medicine:
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody neutralization response and its evasion by emerging viral variants and variant of concern (VOC) are unknown, but critical to understand reinfection risk and breakthrough infection following vaccination. Antibody immunoreactivity against SARS-CoV-2 antigens and Spike variants, inhibition of Spike-driven virus–cell fusion, and infectious SARS-CoV-2 neutralization were characterized in 807 serial samples from 233 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)–confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) individuals with detailed demographics and followed up to 7 months. A broad and sustained polyantigenic immunoreactivity against SARS-CoV-2 Spike, Membrane, and Nucleocapsid proteins, along with high viral neutralization, was associated with COVID-19 severity. A subgroup of “high responders” maintained high neutralizing responses over time, representing ideal convalescent plasma donors. Antibodies generated against SARS-CoV-2 during the first COVID-19 wave had reduced immunoreactivity and neutralization potency to emerging Spike variants and VOC. Accurate monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses would be essential for selection of optimal responders and vaccine monitoring and design.

Tea F, Ospina Stella A, Aggarwal A, Ross Darley D, Pilli D, Vitale D, et al. (2021)
SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies: Longevity, breadth, and evasion by emerging viral variants.
PLoS Med
18(7): e1003656. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003656

Copyright: © 2021 The authors. Published by PLOS
Open access
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)
Perhaps the most important lesson in all of this is the vital importance of getting a large majority of the world's population vaccinated as quickly as possible to cut down on the rates of transmission of this virus and the opportunities for it to evolve new variants in unprotected victims which can then be passed on to vaccinated individuals to be refined further by natural selection to evolve variant which can evade the antibodies. Cutting down the global viral population to as small a size as possible, is the quickest and most effective way to reduce the probability of new and more deadly strains emerging.

To see how quickly a new variant can spread through a population, see my animation of the daily new cases in the UK and how quickly the δ-variant spread; just as we had reduced the rate of infection to very low levels in most parts of the UK.

Friday 9 July 2021

YECism Refuted Again - 120 Million-year Continuous Record of Early Paleozoic in Yukon, Canada

Ordovician black shales of the Mount Hare Formation, Road River Group (approximately 465 million years old) rise above conglomerates of the Aberdeen Member. The dangerous rapids of Aberdeen Canyon (Nan Zhak Nadhàdlaii), created by the Peel River cutting through the resistant conglomerates, appear at bottom left.
Image credit: Erik Sperling
Longest known continuous record of the Paleozoic discovered in Yukon wilderness

It was probably furthest from their minds but scientists from Stanford University have refuted Young Earth Creationism yet again, as is so often the case when science discovers facts about the geology and/or biology of an ancient Earth.

The problem for YECs is that their beliefs are so at variance with the facts that the facts, when uncovered by science, rarely, if ever support them, and in fact almost invariably refuted them, so all scientists need do is to continue to do what scientists do and discover the facts and, intentionally or not, they refute Creationism.

The case in point is the discovery in the Yukon, Canada, of deposits laid down over a period of some 120 million years of the early Palaeozoic era.

As Jossie Garthwaite, writing in Stanford News, explains:

Hundreds of millions of years ago, in the middle of what would eventually become Canada’s Yukon Territory, an ocean swirled with armored trilobites, clam-like brachiopods and soft, squishy creatures akin to slugs and squid.

It’s unheard of to have that much of Earth’s history in one place. There’s nowhere else in the world that I know of where you can study that long a record of Earth history, where there’s basically no change in things like water depth or basin type.

In order to make comparisons throughout these huge swaths of our history and understand long-term trends, you need a continuous record.

The early animals were still living in a low oxygen world.

There’s a ton of debate about how plants impacted the Earth system. Our results are consistent with a hypothesis that as plants evolved and covered the Earth, they increased nutrients to the ocean, driving oxygenation.

Although more oxygen is really good for a lot of organisms, graptolites lost the low oxygen habitat that was their refuge. Any environmental change is going to have winners and losers. Graptolites might have been the losers.

Erik Sperling, lead author
Geological scientist
Stanford University.
A trove of fossils and rock layers formed on that ancient ocean floor have now been unearthed by an international team of scientists along the banks of the Peel River a few hundred miles south of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea. The discovery reveals oxygen changes at the seafloor across nearly 120 million years of the early Paleozoic era, a time that fostered the most rapid development and diversification of complex, multi-cellular life in Earth’s history.

“It’s unheard of to have that much of Earth’s history in one place,” said Stanford University geological scientist Erik Sperling, lead author of a July 7 study detailing the team’s findings in Science Advances. Most rock formations from the Paleozoic Era have been broken up by tectonic forces or eroded over time. “There’s nowhere else in the world that I know of where you can study that long a record of Earth history, where there’s basically no change in things like water depth or basin type.”

Oxygen was scarce in the deep water of this and other oceans at the dawn of the Paleozoic, roughly 541 million years ago. It stayed scarce until the Devonian, roughly 405 million years ago, when, in a geological blink – no more than a few million years – oxygen likely rocketed to levels close to those in modern oceans and the diversity of life on Earth exploded. Big, predatory fish appeared. Primitive ferns and conifers marched across continents previously ruled by bacteria and algae. Dragonflies took flight. And all of this after nearly four billion years of Earth’s landscapes being virtually barren.

Scientists have long debated what might have caused the dramatic shift from a low oxygen world to a more oxygenated one that could support a diverse web of animal life. But until now, it has been difficult to pin down the timing of global oxygenation or the long-term, background state of the world’s oceans and atmosphere during the era that witnessed both the so-called Cambrian explosion of life and the first of Earth’s “Big Five” mass extinctions, about 445 million years ago at the end of the Ordovician.

“In order to make comparisons throughout these huge swaths of our history and understand long-term trends, you need a continuous record,” said Sperling, an assistant professor of geological sciences at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

Context for past life

With permission from the Na Cho Nyak Dun and Tetlit Gwitch’in communities in Yukon, Sperling’s team, which included researchers from Dartmouth College and the Yukon Geological Survey, spent three summers at the Peel River site. Arriving by helicopter, the research team hacked through brush with machetes beside Class VI rapids to collect hundreds of fist-sized samples of rock from more than a mile of interbedded layers of shale, chert and lime mudstone.

Back at Sperling’s lab at Stanford, a small army of summer undergraduates and graduate students worked over five summers to help analyze the fossils and chemicals entombed in the rocks. “We spent a lot of time splitting open rocks and looking at graptolite fossils,” Sperling said. Because graptolites evolved a vast array of recognizable body shapes relatively quickly, the pencil-like markings left by the fossils of these colony-dwelling sea creatures give geologists a way to date the rocks in which they’re found.

Once the researchers had finished identifying and dating graptolite fossils, they ground the rocks in a mill, then measured iron, carbon, phosphorous and other elements in the resulting powder to assess the ocean conditions at the time and place where the layers formed. They analyzed 837 new samples from the Peel River site, as well as 106 new samples from other parts of Canada and 178 samples from around the world for comparison.

Winners and losers

The data show low oxygen levels, or anoxia, likely persisted in the world’s oceans for millions of years longer than previously thought – well into the Phanerozoic, when land plants and early animals began to diversify. “The early animals were still living in a low oxygen world,” Sperling said. Contrary to long-held assumptions, the scientists found Paleozoic oceans were also surprisingly free of hydrogen sulfide, a respiratory toxin often found in the anoxic regions of modern oceans.

When oxygen eventually did tick upward in marine environments, it came about just as larger, more complex plant life took off. “There’s a ton of debate about how plants impacted the Earth system,” Sperling said. “Our results are consistent with a hypothesis that as plants evolved and covered the Earth, they increased nutrients to the ocean, driving oxygenation.” In this hypothesis, the influx of nutrients to the sea would have given a boost to primary productivity, a measure of how quickly plants and algae take carbon dioxide and sunlight, turn them into new biomass – and release oxygen in the process.

The change probably killed off graptolites. “Although more oxygen is really good for a lot of organisms, graptolites lost the low oxygen habitat that was their refuge,” Sperling said. “Any environmental change is going to have winners and losers. Graptolites might have been the losers.”
The Peel River study section.
(A) Paleogeographic map of Laurentia (ca. 480 Ma) with the study area depicted in the box [from (30)]. (B) Early Paleozoic paleoenvironmental reconstruction of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and British Columbia [modified after (30))]. The northwestern Laurentian margin was divided into a series of shallow-water carbonate platforms (blue) and deep-water shale basins (gray). The Road River Group was sampled at the Peel River locality in the Richardson trough. (C) The majority of the Road River Group consists of unbioturbated interbedded organic-rich mudstone/shale and lime mudstone with local diagenetic chert replacement. Shown here are Tremadocian dark gray to black shale and lime mudstone of the Mount Hare Formation. Seated geologist is at ~38 m in section J1727 [see (30)) for detailed sedimentological discussion of the Peel River section]. (D) Trace fossils occur sporadically throughout the Road River Group, but the primary interval of extensive, continuous bioturbation occurs in the lower to middle Katian (Upper Ordovician). Bedding plane view of heavily bioturbated Katian strata from 81 to 93 m in J1518; 30-cm-long hammer for scale. MCE, Misty Creek embayment; MRE, Meilleur River embayment.
Photo credit: Erik Sperling, Stanford University.
The research team's findings are published, open access, in Science Advances:
The extent to which Paleozoic oceans differed from Neoproterozoic oceans and the causal relationship between biological evolution and changing environmental conditions are heavily debated. Here, we report a nearly continuous record of seafloor redox change from the deep-water upper Cambrian to Middle Devonian Road River Group of Yukon, Canada. Bottom waters were largely anoxic in the Richardson trough during the entirety of Road River Group deposition, while independent evidence from iron speciation and Mo/U ratios show that the biogeochemical nature of anoxia changed through time. Both in Yukon and globally, Ordovician through Early Devonian anoxic waters were broadly ferruginous (nonsulfidic), with a transition toward more euxinic (sulfidic) conditions in the mid–Early Devonian (Pragian), coincident with the early diversification of vascular plants and disappearance of graptolites. This ~80-million-year interval of the Paleozoic characterized by widespread ferruginous bottom waters represents a persistence of Neoproterozoic-like marine redox conditions well into the Phanerozoic.

In stark contrast to YECism, which this research refutes in just about every respect; it confirms very much of what science had deduced about this time in Earth's history, how oxygen levels changed over the period and what impact this had on living organisms and the evolution of the major orders. The interesting thing is how well the recorded change in atmospheric oxygen maps onto the fossil record, showing a very strong causal link between those environmental changes and evolution/extinctions.

This tendency of science to validate its hypotheses with several different strands of evidence is of course to be expected, since these major events are often causally linked. Evolution, for example, is driven largely by environmental change and environmental change is driven by geological and biological change.

YECism, on the other hand only has the camp-fire tales of nomadic hunter-gatherers and simple goat-herders with what little science they had in the fearful infancy of our species, when 'magic' seemed like a sensible explanation for the unknown. The astonishing thing is that this backward superstition still survives today in the face of the considerable body of verifiable scientific evidence, such as this paper, that it is wrong. It really is time that YECs accepted that the Bible is best read as an account of what primitive people used to imagine before they knew any better. They did their best but had no evidence, so used best guesses - and got it badly wrong, as we are now discovering.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Unintelligent Designer News - Has Creationism's Intelligent Designer Boobed?

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria being engulfed by an immune cell known as a neutrophil. Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have discovered that blocking a specific group of enzymes called caspases boosts the ability of immune cells, including neutrophils, to fight MRSA and other dangerous skin infections — and without the use of antibiotics.

Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
National Institutes of Health
'Fortunate Accident' May Yield Immunity Weapon Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Creationist mode:

No-body is perfect, but you would expect Creationism's intelligent [sic] designer to come pretty close if not actually perfect, if it really existed.

But, according to research by scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA, it may have dropped what we in the UK call, a clanger, with its design of MRSA - the multi-resistant Streptococcus aureus bacterium it redesigned to get around the success of medical science with anti-biotics - and it could be a fatal one for its design!

In fact, it was so unlikely that the researchers discovered it by accident (just like Fleming discovered penicillin - the first antibiotic, so you would think an intelligent designer would have learned from that mistake!). As the John Hopkins University News release explains:
We gave the mice a blocker of all caspases [pancaspase inhibitor], a compound known as Q-VD-OPH, thinking it would leave both sets of mice more vulnerable to MRSA infection. To our surprise, blocking caspases had the opposite effect, resulting in a rapid and remarkable clearing of the MRSA bacteria by keeping the immune cells alive and boosting their protective function.

It’s like a fire department where older firetrucks are kept operating to help put out blazes, when otherwise, they would have been taken out of service

It was an accidental finding by Alexander Fleming that led to the golden age of antibiotics, but now that’s nearing the end because of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It seems fitting that another surprise in the lab could be the start of a second golden age, the use of host-directed immunotherapy.

Lloyd Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Senior author
Former professor of dermatology, infectious diseases and orthopaedic surgery
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
Now with Janssen Research and Development
...in a paper published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have announced another accidentally discovered, potentially game-changing treatment — one that may provide an alternative immune-based solution to the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

And like Fleming’s surprise finding, the bacterium of note is once again S. aureus — but this time, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the life-threatening strain unharmed by methicillin and other antibiotics, and better known by its acronym, MRSA.

The paper’s senior author, Lloyd Miller, M.D., Ph.D., former professor of dermatology, infectious diseases and orthopaedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and now with Janssen Research and Development, says the research team was originally intending to study the mechanisms behind MRSA skin infections in mice with and without the ability to manufacture interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β). This protein, transformed into its active form by enzymes called caspases, enhances protective immunity by helping immune cells called neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages fight bacterial infections.

The paper’s senior author, Lloyd Miller, M.D., Ph.D., former professor of dermatology, infectious diseases and orthopaedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and now with Janssen Research and Development, says the research team was originally intending to study the mechanisms behind MRSA skin infections in mice with and without the ability to manufacture interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β). This protein, transformed into its active form by enzymes called caspases, enhances protective immunity by helping immune cells called neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages fight bacterial infections.

A single oral dose of Q-VD-OPH decreased the size of MRSA skin lesions and rapidly cleared the bacteria compared with vehicle-treated [given the carrier solution without Q-VD-OPH] and untreated mice. And surprisingly, the treatment worked whether IL-1β was present or not — and without administering any antibiotics.

The destruction of macrophages by necroptosis releases large amount of tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, a protein that triggers bacteria-fighting immune cells to swarm into an infected area of skin.

Martin Alphonse, Ph.D., Lead author
A dermatology postdoctoral fellow
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“We gave the mice a blocker of all caspases [pancaspase inhibitor], a compound known as Q-VD-OPH, thinking it would leave both sets of mice more vulnerable to MRSA infection,” Miller says. “To our surprise, blocking caspases had the opposite effect, resulting in a rapid and remarkable clearing of the MRSA bacteria by keeping the immune cells alive and boosting their protective function.”

Sensing they might have accidentally uncovered a means of fighting bacterial “superbugs,” Miller and his colleagues conducted their latest study to confirm the unexpected finding was not a fluke.

The results were encouraging.

“A single oral dose of Q-VD-OPH decreased the size of MRSA skin lesions and rapidly cleared the bacteria compared with vehicle-treated [given the carrier solution without Q-VD-OPH] and untreated mice,” says study lead author Martin Alphonse, Ph.D., a dermatology postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “And surprisingly, the treatment worked whether IL-1β was present or not — and without administering any antibiotics.”

The researchers, says Alphonse, found that the pancaspase inhibitor reduces apoptosis — one of three main methods the body uses to remove worn-out or damaged cells — of neutrophils and monocytes, leaving them in plentiful numbers and better able to remove MRSA bacteria.

“It’s like a fire department where older firetrucks are kept operating to help put out blazes, when otherwise, they would have been taken out of service,” says Miller.

The researchers also saw enhanced necroptosis — a second controlled cell death process similar to apoptosis — of macrophages, which are mature monocytes.

“The destruction of macrophages by necroptosis releases large amount of tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, a protein that triggers bacteria-fighting immune cells to swarm into an infected area of skin,” says Alphonse.

Finally, the researchers tested whether Q-VD-OPH in mice could have broader activity against two other dangerous skin bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes (the cause of multiple diseases, including scarlet fever, necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (often a threat to hospitalized patients on ventilators, with catheters or suffering wounds from surgery or burns). The targeting of the body’s immune system against bacteria via pancaspase inhibition — referred to as “host-directed immunotherapy” — proved just as successful as it had been for MRSA.
In other words, having been up to its old trick of creating a parasite which turns our immune system against us (the immune system it supposedly designed to protect us from its bacterial and viral parasites) the intelligent [sic] designer has accidentally created a major vulnerability because, by turning off part of this system, the researchers found they could wipe out an MRSA infection. What it had been getting away with until this discovery, was setting up a mechanism whereby the infected host destroyed its own phagocytes, so, by turning off that mechanism, it leaves plenty of phagocytes around to kill the bacteria. In addition, this same mechanism now sacrifices old and worn-out macrophages which then release a substance which causes an invasion of the infected tissues by anti-bacterial immune cells.

Creationist mode:

The serious science, which of course pays no heed to Creationist superstitions and fanciful tales, can be read in Science Translational Medicine:
Anti-infection immunotherapy
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are increasingly prevalent and difficult to treat. Alphonse et al. show that a pan-caspase inhibitor called Q-VD-OPH functioned as an effective immunotherapy in mouse models of community-acquired MRSA, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa skin infections. Q-VD-OPH reduced apoptosis in neutrophils and monocytes and increased necroptosis in macrophages, thereby increasing TNF production and infection clearance in mice. This work suggests a potential strategy to target bacterial infections without requiring the use of antibiotics.

Staphylococcus aureus causes most skin infections in humans, and the emergence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains is a serious public health threat. There is an urgent clinical need for nonantibiotic immunotherapies to treat MRSA infections and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance. Here, we investigated the pan-caspase inhibitor quinoline–valine–aspartic acid–difluorophenoxymethyl ketone (Q-VD-OPH) for efficacy against MRSA skin infection in mice. A single systemic dose of Q-VD-OPH decreased skin lesion sizes and reduced bacterial burden compared with vehicle-treated or untreated mice. Although Q-VD-OPH inhibited inflammasome-dependent apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing caspase activation and recruitment domain (ASC) speck formation and caspase-1–mediated interleukin-1β (IL-1β) production, Q-VD-OPH maintained efficacy in mice deficient in IL-1β, ASC, caspase-1, caspase-11, or gasdermin D. Thus, Q-VD-OPH efficacy was independent of inflammasome-mediated pyroptosis. Rather, Q-VD-OPH reduced apoptosis of monocytes and neutrophils. Moreover, Q-VD-OPH enhanced necroptosis of macrophages with concomitant increases in serum TNF and TNF-producing neutrophils, monocytes/macrophages, and neutrophils in the infected skin. Consistent with this, Q-VD-OPH lacked efficacy in mice deficient in TNF (with associated reduced neutrophil influx and necroptosis), in mice deficient in TNF/IL-1R and anti-TNF antibody-treated WT mice. In vitro studies revealed that combined caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9 inhibition reduced apoptosis, and combined caspase-1, caspase-8, and caspase-11 inhibition increased TNF, suggesting a mechanism for Q-VD-OPH efficacy in vivo. Last, Q-VD-OPH also had a therapeutic effect against Streptococcus pyogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa skin infections in mice. Collectively, pan-caspase inhibition represents a potential host-directed immunotherapy against MRSA and other bacterial skin infections.

Alphonse, Martin P.; Rubens, Jessica H.; Ortines, Roger V.; Orlando, Nicholas A.; Patel, Aman M.; Dikeman, Dustin; Wang, Yu; Vuong, Ivan; Joyce, Daniel P.; Zhang, Jeffrey;e Mumtaz, Mohammed; Liu, Haiyun; Liu, Qi; Youn, Christine; Patrick, Garrett J.; Ravipati, Advaitaa; Miller, Robert J.; Archer, Nathan K.; Miller, Lloyd S.
Pan-caspase inhibition as a potential host-directed immunotherapy against MRSA and other bacterial skin infections
Science Translational Medicine 07 Jul 2021: Vol. 13, Issue 601, eabe9887 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abe9887

Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Reprinted by kind permission under licence #5104301214127
It looks like Creationism's incompetent designer didn't see that one coming, any more than it saw what medical science could do with penicillin which, ironically, it had designed moulds to produce to defend themselves from the bacteria which this same designer had designed to attack moulds.

Creationists regard these developments as the work of a highly intelligent, omni-benevolent god whom the frauds at the Discovery Institute now make look like a malevolent, misanthropic, pestilential sadist who loves making its creation sick, by insisting these things can't be the result of a natural process in which neither gods nor magic are involved.
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